Rapport Building 101: How to Connect with Anyone, Anywhere
Everyone who has completed an NLP training knows the term building rapport. This is pronounced in French as “rappoor” – without the T and is about making a harmonious connection with another person. It is actually the art of aligning oneself with another through words, behavior, and thinking styles.
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Building rapport is not just a simple trick.
Even though you can teach yourself to become very good at it, building rapport is not just a simple trick. We’ve been doing it naturally from an early age. Children like to walk hand in hand and take over each other’s language quickly. That is already the most basic way of building rapport.
Through the development of our personality and the learning of certain behaviors, we can ‘forget’ what it is like to build rapport as we get older. This makes us a mismatch, as it were.
For example, put a neat English Gentleman in a suit next to a golden necklace decorated rapper and you’ll hardly discover similarities and interconnectedness. But in general, we’ll adapt our clothing style to the location where we’re going and the kind of people we’re going to meet.
We do this so as not to fall out of tune and to be able to belong somewhere according to the generally accepted standards of behavior and clothing regulations.
What is building rapport needed for?
The term is often used in training courses for coaches or mentors. For every coach and mentor, it is important to have a harmonious connection with the client. This is what building rapport is used for.
The client will feel at ease more quickly and will be more willing to receive information from the coach or mentor. A kind of bond of trust is created without this being expressed. The client will feel seen and heard and experience that they are talking to someone who is like-minded.
Building rapport can also be used to make new contacts or find a new spouse. By building rapport people are more likely to like you and want to get along with you.
This has to do with the fact that we prefer to interact with the same kind of people as we ourselves. We are more likely to connect with someone who we believe pursues the same ideals and values and has the same speech and behavior as ourselves.
How does building rapport work?
Building rapport is about subtly and for the other unconsciously copying behavior, voice, and choice of words and thinking styles. Simply put, you copy things you can see, hear or feel, but if you exaggerate that too much, you can achieve the opposite effect. It can make the other feel very uncomfortable. Building rapport is therefore the art of ‘invisible copying’ the other person.
Imitate behavior in order to build rapport.
The primary art of building rapport is to sit, walk, or stand as the other person does. If somebody walks slowly and a bit bent, you do the same and if somebody sits with his legs crossed, you copy that.
It goes a step further when you subtly imitate the kind of movements someone makes. Some people talk with a pointing finger and others hold their arms tightly over each other.
Sometimes these are subtle behaviors that can make a big difference when building rapport. For example, people who hold their head a little tilted when listening or people who blink their eyes a little more often than others.
It also happens that someone is very agile and even restless and makes a lot of gestures. The trick is not to imitate someone at the same moment, but when it is appropriate. When that is, varies from situation to situation.
When building rapport, even breathing is a part of it. Does someone breathe fast or slow and does someone breathe deeply or not? That too can be copied and will be experienced as a harmony between the coach or therapist and the client.
Imitating the choice of words and voice to build rapport.
Everyone has stopwords and they are easy to recognize for an experienced coach or therapist. But it takes more than just copying the specific choice of words to build rapport.
People have a specific sentence structure, speaking speed, volume, and pitch of speech. There are also people who speak very insidiously or roar with laughter just after each sentence. Or people who make very long sentences or speak very staccato. These are all things that can be used to build rapport.
Adopt thinking styles to build rapport.
For most coaches and therapists, the tricky part of building rapport is taking over thinking styles. For example, whether someone has optimistic explanation styles or negative ones. Is someone practical or fluffy?
This all has an influence on the way of building rapport and mastering the adoption of a style of thinking giving the other person an enormous feeling of being seen and experiencing unity.
Another part of building rapport with thinking styles is by listening to the type of words someone uses. If the person often says “I see” then the person is probably visually oriented. If the person often says “I hear” then this is audio oriented and with “I feel” it can be a sensitive person or someone who likes to feel or touch.
What is mismatching or anti-building rapport?
Rarely is a person aware of it, but for some people, it is almost second nature to mismatch or anti-building rapport. Unfortunately, they often feel misunderstood and think it’s the other person’s fault.
A common mismatcher statement is that they just want to be themselves and there is nothing wrong with that in itself. However, the other person does not always experience this as pleasant.
Common ways to mismatch and anti-building rapport are:
- Talking loudly in places where one is generally quiet, such as a library.
- Always walk in the same kind of clothes, even when the situation calls for a change of clothes.
- Saying the opposite of what someone is saying in order to provoke a discussion.
- Continuously “being against all sorts of things”. Even if the majority of people see it differently.
- Swearing, cursing all the time.
- Telling “your truth” to anyone who disagrees with you.
- Unsolicited naming what other people like politicians, colleagues, or friends all don’t do well in your eyes.
- Ignoring someone else’s emotions and feelings and dismissing them as manipulative or silly.